At a time when Covid-19 cases are +20% in the U.S. to 156K over two weeks, and Hurricane Ida is expected to hit the Gulf Coast today, Universal/MGM/Monkeypaw’s Candyman is prevailing with a great late August start of $22.4M.
Also, another encouraging sign for the box office, especially on a horror film, is that business wasn’t entirely frontloaded, which is typically the case: Candyman‘s Saturday of $7.78M was +8% over Friday after backing out Thursday night previews.
For a movie that has debuted during the final frame of August, Candyman ranks fourth behind 2009’s Final Destination ($27.4M), 2016’s Don’t Breathe ($26.4M) and 2007’s Halloween ($26.3M). In fact, you could argue that Candyman is the third-best opening for the final weekend of August, as Halloween technically bowed over Labor Day weekend.
“Nia DaCosta crafted an intense thriller that audiences responded to extraordinarily well this weekend. The debut of Candyman exceeded all industry expectations, and with the very positive audience reaction scores and a three-day holiday in our second weekend, we’re anticipating a strong theatrical run at the domestic box office,” said Universal’s Domestic Theatrical Distribution President, Jim Orr.
Candyman was hatched at MGM back in the fall of 2018, as the studio owns the IP from its acquisition of the PolyGram film library. In fact, in the new movie, there’s an Easter Egg paying homage to the horror film’s older studio: There’s a high school in the movie named after late PolyGram Boss Steve Golin.
Jordan Peele approached Jonathan Glickman, who was then President of the MGM Motion Picture Film Group, with the idea of writing and producing a take on Candyman which would redefine the perspective of African Americans in horror films.
The original movie takes place in the Chicago neighborhood of Cabrini-Greene (which was also the setting for the 1970s sitcom Good Times), a public housing project that has been torn down. Peele’s version of Candyman would study what happened when you build on top of a neighborhood with a past; you can’t hide its roots underground. Glickman gave the greenlight. However, because of Peele’s deal at Universal, the film was segued to them for distribution and marketing. Peele wanted a theatrical release, and hence Uni held it during the pandemic, the production being shot in the fall of 2019 for roughly $20M.
Updated stats on Candyman: PLFs accounted for 23% of weekend ticket sales through Saturday. Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Baltimore all significantly over-performed norms. LA and Chicago generated 12 of the pic’s top 25 theatres. While Candyman played fairly evenly across the US, it was potent in the Southeast and Northeast and in the Midwest, with great performances in Chicago and Milwaukee. Top markets over Friday and Saturday were LA ($1.3M), NY ($1.1M), Chicago ($778K), Atlanta ($600K), Dallas ($565K), Philly (close to $500K), Houston ($464K), San Francisco ($411K), DC ($403K) and Detroit ($334K).
Males showed up at 53% to females 47%, African Americans led at 37%, then Caucasians at 30%, Latino at 22% and Asian audiences at 6%. The 18-34 crowd repped 69% of Candyman‘s audience, with 25 and older at 59% and under at 41%.
As we’ve seen weekend-to-weekend during the summer, even though the top of the box office chart is faring quite well, it’s the middle and lower parts which are sagging. Weekend 35 here of 2021 is only expected to gross $61.8M, per Comscore, -3% from last weekend, but a steep 33% off from the same 3-day period in 2019 (keep in mind, that was Labor Day then, with the second weekend of Angel Has Fallen leading with $11.8M). Many account that gap in the box office, not so much to the number of theaters which are closed (which is only around 10% in the US and Canada). Rather, the lack of potency in holdovers because of theatrical day-and-date releases, and, yes, audience’s overall reluctance at this point in time during Covid-19.
Despite the success here with Candyman this past weekend, and the potential Labor Day weekend record-breaking that Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings is expected to do, with at least $45M over 4 days, many in the industry are greatly concerned about what will unfold in the next few weeks at the autumn box office. It’s not the 18-34 demo they’re worried about so much, rather, families with unvaccinated kids opting to stay at home because of the looming delta variant. Studios with family pics are being very respectful of the perilous situation, and that’s why they’re either pushing their releases, selling them to a streamer (which is what Sony is doing with Hotel Transylvania 4), or going day-and-date theatrical PVOD like MGM/United Artists Releasing with their Addams Family 2 on Oct. 1.
The sluggishness among older adults is also worrisome, and it will be interesting to see what kind of windows shake out here for the bulk of Oscar bait that’s programmed on the Q4 release schedule. MGM/UAR’s Aretha Franklin biopicRespectwas available on PVOD as early as this past Friday, that movie having collected close to $20M after three weekends in theaters.
Disney wound up getting Jungle Cruise across $100M today, and Free Guy had an even better third weekend hold of -27% than originally spotted yesterday.
1.) Candyman (Uni) 3,569 theaters Fri $9.1M/Sat $7.78M/Sun $5.4M/ 3-day $22.37M/Wk 1
2.) Free Guy (Dis/20th) 3,940 (-225) theaters Fri $3.6M (-31%)/Sat $6M/Sun $4M/3-day $13.55M (-27%)/Total $79.3M/Wk 3
3.) Paw Patrol (Par) 3,189 (+5) theaters Fri $1.75M (-61%)/Sat $2.86M/Sun $2M/3-day $6.6M (-50%)/Total $24M/Wk 2
4.) Jungle Cruise (Dis) 3,370 (-205) theaters Fri $1.3M (-26%)/Sat $2.2M/Sun $1.4M/3-day $5M (-21%)/Total $100.1M/Wk 5
5.) Don’t Breathe 2 (Sony) 2,703 (-302) theaters Fri $805K/Sat $1.2M/Sun $785K/3-day $2.8M (-45%)/Total: $24.6M/Wk 3
6.) Respect (UAR) 2,607 (-600) theaters Fri $629K (-42%)/Sat $965K/Sun $675K/3-day $2.269M (-40%)/Total $19.7M/Wk 3
7.) The Suicide Squad (WB) 2,436 (-490) theaters, 3-day $2M (-40%)/Total $52.8M/Wk 4
8.) The Protege (LG) 2,577 theaters Fri $484K/Sat $689K/Sun $477K/3-day $1.65M (-43%)/Total: $5.7M/Wk 2
9.) Night House (Sea) 2,250 theaters Fri $354K/Sat $511K/Sun $353K/3-day $1.2M (-58%)/Total $5.1M/Wk 2
10.) Black Widow (Dis) 1,050 (-290) theaters Fri $227K/Sat $382K/Sun $246K/3-day $855K (-23%)/Total $181.5M/Wk 8
11.) Old (Uni) 1,136 (-411) theaters Fri $240K/Sat $370K/Sun $220K/3-day $830K (-28%)/Total: $46.5M/Wk 6
12.) Reminiscence (WB) 3,265 theaters, 3-day: $820K (-58%)/Total $3.5M/Wk 2
13.) Chal Mera Putt 2(RBE) 67 theaters Fri $168K/Sat $230K/Sun $167K/$8,4K per theater/3-day $565K/Wk 1
14.) Un Rescate de Huevitos (A Rescue of Little Eggs) (LG/Pant) 320 theaters Fri $125K/Sat $152,5K/Sun $152,5K/$1,3K per theater/3-day $430K/Wk 1
15.) The Green Knight (A24) 552 (-273) theaters, Fri $97K/Sat $124K/Sun $99K/3-day $320K (-44%)/Total $16.58M/Wk 5
Together (Bleecker) 250 theaters Fri $35,5K/Sat $37,9K/Sun $28,5K/$408 per theater/3-day $102K/Wk 1